The Making of a Prize Winner

During #BookWeekScotland it was announced that the 2020 Booker Prize - a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom -- had been awarded to Scottish writer Douglas Stuart for his debut novel Shuggie Bain, about a boy in 1980s Glasgow trying to support his mother as she struggles with addiction & poverty. Margaret Busby, who chaired the judging panel, said Shuggie Bain was destined to be a classic.

This astonishing debut is a powerful and heartbreaking story about the love between a boy and his mother, about poverty and addiction, about Thatcher’s Glasgow, about sexuality, coming of age and finding one’s way. Roaming through public housing, wandering in and out of pubs and neighbourhoods, it asks how we might protect those we love most of all, and at what cost.

In August Douglas joined Damian Barr at the online Edinburgh International Book Festival to discuss The Making of Shuggie Bain:

Stuart’s book reflects his own experiences growing up with a mother who was an alcoholic and died from her addiction. He described the book as a “love story” looking at the kind of “unconditional, often-tested love” that children can have for flawed parents. In an emotional speech, the 44-year-old, who now lives in New York, said, “My mother would be thrilled, she would be absolutely thrilled and I think she would be proud.” He said that he had carried “a lot of love and pain” and writing the book was “incredibly healing for me”. He also paid tribute to his native city, saying that “growing up in Glasgow I think is one of the greatest inspirations of my life.” Inviting comparisons to the works of Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, you will not finish it unscathed, and you will not forget Shuggie Bain.

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